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Vitamin C improves healing of foot ulcers: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial


Chronic foot ulcers are associated with a high risk of osteomyelitis, poor quality of life, amputations and disability. Few strategies improve their healing, and amputation rates in high-risk foot services are usually over 30 %. We conducted a randomised, inactive-placebo controlled, double-blind trial of 500 mg of slow-release vitamin C in sixteen people with foot ulcers in the Foot Wound Clinic at Westmead Hospital. Nine were randomised to control and seven to vitamin C. When serum vitamin C results become available at 4 weeks, all people with deficiency were offered both vitamin C and glucosamine tablets for the next 4 weeks. Patients without baseline deficiency continued their original assigned treatment. The primary outcome was percentage ulcer healing (reduction in ulcer size) at 8 weeks. Fifty percentage of subjects had baseline vitamin C deficiency, half having undetectable levels. Healing at 8 weeks was significantly better in the vitamin C group (median 100 v. -14 %, P = 0.041). Healing without amputation occurred in all patients in the vitamin C group. In contrast, 44 % of controls had not healed their ulcer at the end of the study period. Vitamin C improved healing of foot ulcers. Further studies are needed to determine whether there is a threshold effect for serum vitamin C above which therapy is ineffective and whether there are better or lesser responding subgroups. Because of its low cost and ease of access and administration, we recommend offering vitamin C therapy to all people who have chronic foot ulcers and potentially suboptimal vitamin C intake. Trial registration number: ACTRN12617001142325.

Type Journal
ISBN 1475-2662 (Electronic) 0007-1145 (Linking)
Authors Gunton, J. E.; Girgis, C. M.; Lau, T.; Vicaretti, M.; Begg, L.; Flood, V.
Responsible Garvan Author (missing name)
Published Date 2021-11-30
Published Volume 126
Published Issue 10
Published Pages 1451-1458
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1017/S0007114520003815
URL link to publisher's version